Prehistoric Woven Sandal, Cave on Anacapa Island

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Woven sandal found in a cave on Anacapa Island
(SBMNH catalog # NA-CA-129-1E-1)
photo courtesy SBMNH


Prehistoric Woven Sandal, Cave on Anacapa Island

According to Anthropology curator, John Johnson: the sandal originally came to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on August 27, 1948 as part of a large private archaeological collection from the estate of Frank Van Den Bergh (1866-1947) (Incoming Package Record No. 3092). Phil Orr received the collection, but his description is very brief. All he wrote was that the collection contained “shells + Indian relics.”

Van Den Burgh had acquired Lorenzo Yates’s collection in 1937 for $300, but whether this piece was something Yates had collected is unknown. When Travis Hudson cataloged the sandal in 1973, he stated that a note associated with the sandal indicated that it came from Anacapa Island. It appears that someone once believed or represented to others that the sandal had been found on Anacapa. This note is no longer extant, so the handwriting cannot be compared to examples from Yates or Van Den Burgh to know who wrote the original. This is slim evidence to go on. It is certainly conceivable that the note was originally associated with a different artifact and got misplaced with the sandal.

Some question whether the sandal really did come from Anacapa. It very closely resembles one in the SBMNH collection that was discovered in a dry rock shelter in Arizona. If this one came from the Anacapa Island cave as noted, it would presumably have come from the cave on West Anacapa in order for it to have been preserved so well. It appears to be made of yucca fiber.